Thursday, February 11, 2016

Stuff Stuff Stuff

So it looks like I've been . . . busy? Apparently I have an article up about Deadpool, written with the express purpose of introducing the character to people who may find him either unfamiliar or unpleasant. For the record, I am pro-Deadpool, in that I have been reading about Deadpool since I bought New Mutants #98 off the stands way back in the day and have read probably 99% of all Deadpool comics ever published, having enjoyed more of them than not. A lot of Deadpool's problem boils down to Deadpool fans, and the reaction to Deadpool fans among certain more enfranchised segments of the readership. Is there a bit of classist resentment here, given the tendency of jokes at the expense of Deadpool fans to focus in on things like hypothetical literacy levels and potential Insane Clown Posse fandom? U-Decide!

And as if that weren't enough!

Abhay's got a 2015 Year-In-Review series going up at the Comics Journal website as we speak. I do a guest bit here, as more or less a straight man brought in to explain this year's panoply of mainstream comic book events. One problem with the pieces, I think, has been the conscious decision to turn off commenting for the articles. I understand why Abhay and the Journal came to the decision, and I respect their reasoning - but looking at the discussion online, peacemeal on Twitter, and I think there's actually a disservice being done here in terms of some degree of conversation being sidestepped. Again, I understand not wanting to deal with the fallout of, oh, Mark Waid coming in and getting butthurt and dismissing some legitimate criticism because it comes wrapped in some brilliant scatology (and he comes in for a good drubbing more than once because, well, Mark Waid had kind of an absurd year [which doesn't take away from the fact that he wrote some good comics in 2015] where he did and said some absurd things that deserve little better than outright mockery). But on the other hand I've seen some legitimate criticism of the piece online - whether or not I agree with the criticism is immaterial to the fact that some of the questions raised are interesting and deserve to be answered, especially in the context of a piece that does a dynamite job of calling out the absurdity of people in the industry repeatedly saying, in response to legitimate criticism, "we need to have a conversation," and then reacting dismissively to said conversation when it arises.

Now, obviously I'm biased, being, you know, part of the article in question, and having nothing but respect for Abhay as one of the funniest people alive and one of the two great inspirations for this very blog (the other one being, of course, the immortal Gone & Forgotten). But some of the conversation (there's that word again!) I've seen on Twitter has been interesting. Does Abhay get a pass for his criticism in some quarters because of his gender, when often women who have said very similar things have been criticized? Another valence here that often gets overlooked is that he's speaking from the position of an absolute outsider to the industry - he doesn't make a living, or really have any financial stake in the industry at all. He's a lawyer in LA. He gets to say a lot of shit because at the end of the day he has absolutely no skin in this game, even less than I do, really. So there's no sense that he's trying to make things better through critique because there's no sense that he has any investment in the system other than as a gadfly trying to make people laugh by pointing out how completely idiotic some of this shit is. I personally don't have a problem with that (obviously) and aspire to the status of gadfly myself, but I also recognize that the freedom to say any old thing comes with the very real price of pissing off people who actually are invested in trying to make things better, which is something I sort of gesture towards at the end of my brief contribution. It's something I think about, at least, even if I am also aware that I have absolutely no qualms about pissing people off for no real reason other than that it amuses me to do so, which is pretty much the textbook definition of "white guy privilege."


Unknown said...

I'm loving the Abhay pieces so far, and your event coverage was a welcome contribution. I didn't read Convergence proper, but I picked up some of the minis, and one thing I realized while reading is that many of them don't even work well as fan service because A. they're taking place not in the old world's status quo, but in the annoying "cities in a bottle" premise and B. they're mixing two great flavors that don't taste good together. If I heard about Convergence and thought to myself, "ooh, I'm most excited about Red Son Superman returning," I would have wanted to see him do more Red Son Superman stuff, not invade Star City to fight Robot Arm Arsenal or whatever the fuck happened.

Also, some of the art was pretty bad, and it was a shame when they couldn't get some of the better writers back. Looking at the Stephanie Brown series on both fronts there.

Those criticisms of Abhay are interesting (where are you reading those, by the way? I've been trying to follow the conversation on Twitter but haven't been seeing much), but the argument that he's only saying this stuff to comment on how stupid it is doesn't hold a lot of water with me. Of course that's what he's doing; it's the same thing that writers have done with shitty situations for years and years. The idea that criticism of the comics industry needs to be constructive seems to me to be the same attitude that led to the furor over the Lepore piece Abhay talks about in part 1. Sometimes, dumb shit is dumb, and an outsider is more than capable (maybe more capable than someone fully entrenched in the business) of pointing it out.

DanielT said...

I have zero interest in Deadpool as a comic character (but I have no negative reaction to him) and I don't think I've ever even read a comic he's been in, but somehow I'm kinda looking forward to the movie.

I agree Adhay's articles should have left the comments on, but will point out that it appears that was his decision alone and not made in collusion with the Journal (unless you know something I don't).

Spoilers Below said...

To be fair to Waid, Lepore's Wonder Woman book is really, really awful, and contains an astonishing number of factual errors. Very bad scholarship from an academic who ought to have done much better work, and exactly the sort of thing that would set off a guy like Waid who knows his comics history up one side and down the other.

For a fluff article, who cares? But for a non-fiction book? C'mon, do the work.